Today was a Very Snowy Day.
Yesterday, the snow came down all day, and today my street looked like this:
I live on a street with both apartment houses and university buildings, and you can see the mix in this picture. The snow was at least two feet deep everywhere I walked, except of course where the streets and sidewalks had been plowed. (That’s one nice thing about living in the city: all the plowing is done for you.) As I walked around the neighborhood, I stopped to take a picture of myself reflected in the post office window:
That’s me dressed for winter in a Land’s End jacket and Timberland boots. When you live in Boston, you have to be ready for winter weather. I walked around a bit, watching the students enjoying the snow. We have so many students here from other parts of the country, and from all over the world; some of them have never seen snow until they arrive in Boston. Today, I saw students building forts, having snowball fights, and taking pictures of themselves having the New England university experience. By Monday, the city will be moving again, and they will all be in classes.
I walked back to my building, which looked very much as it probably had on a winter day a hundred years ago:
It was nice to have a quiet weekend, because usually I’m so busy. This is a transitional period for me: I’m still doing all the things I was doing, and I’ve started doing all the things I’m going to be doing, and those are going on at the same time, which is exhausting. That will be my life for the next few weeks, although after that it will get easier. Transitional times are hard . . . But they’re necessary, because otherwise you can’t actually get anywhere. You have to go through the transitions.
There’s something I do to help me through them, a sort of mental game I play. I pretend to be the person who has already gone through the transition. I’ll give you an example. In the next month or so, I need to lose five pounds. (Don’t even start: I know that I’m perfectly healthy at my current weight. But I dance, and when I go to events I get photographed, and I know the weight I prefer to be, which is five pounds less than my current weight. Any less than that, and I start to look underweight.) So I think, what sort of person would weight five pounds less than I do now? Let’s call her Theo. Well, Theo would not be in the bad habit of staying up late at night, which would leave her tired and hungry and in need of a midnight snack. She would take care of her health, which means getting enough sleep and exercise. So the mental game is pretending to be Theo. I think, what would Theo do? And even more importantly, how would Theo think? And then I try to do and think that.
It just occurred to me, as I was writing this, that I actually have a picture of Theo. Here she is, just after her ballet class:
Doesn’t she look responsible, as though she’s sleeping and eating right? I wish I could be her all the time . . . But for now at least I can pretend, and that actually helps me through the transition, whether it’s a transition to being healthier, or having the career and life I want. Transitions are hard, and in some sense we’re in transition all the time, because life never stays still. But the major transitions, those times in our lives when we’re changing rapidly, and it feels as though the earth is shifting beneath our feet — those are when it can help to visualize who you will be after the transition is over, and pretend to already be her.
I play that same trick on myself when I have to travel. On account of certain childhood experiences I often have anxieties about going away on a trip that make the task of packing almost impossible. So I pretend that I’m already in the hotel room at my destination, merely packing to come back home. That immediately dissolves the frozen molasses that my brain is trying to swim through.
Your projection of yourself as ‘Theo’ sounds like a helpful tool to become her as your pounds melt away and you arrive at the place where she begins. I am transitioning from a place of undiagnosed health issues to knowing what my condition is and that I will not be cured. It makes me want to be bolder, more active, more decisive now that I know the score. The other me is coping much better with the news than I am at the moment, but I’ll get there. Thanks for posting.